• SmartFlex Solarfacades has successfully completed test operation of its BIPV project
  • Solar modules were installed into a glass facade on the office building of Glassbel in Lithuania
  • 75 glass-glass modules were installed as a ‘second-skin’ to the glass facade
  • The 15 kW system is expected to produce 12.5 MWh of clean energy annually
  • Costs of a ‘second-skin’ solar facade are estimated to be around €550 ($610.91) per m2

The European Union supported SmartFlex Solarfacades project has achieved completion of the test operation of its reference solar facade. Semi-transparent solar modules were installed into a glass facade on the office building of Glassbel, a Lithuanian glass processor and project partner.

The solar modules installed were custom made but industrially manufactured. The 75 glass-glass modules were installed as a ‘second skin’ to the glass facade. The 15 kW capacity PV system installed can produce around 12.5 MWh of clean energy annually.

As part of the project, modules were installed on a surface area of 600 m2 on south and west facades of the building in November 2016. As many as 15 different types of glass-glass modules were used on the reference building.

“Printed module glass, laminating films of various colours and differently coloured solar cells can be used to custom design solar façades any way you like,“ said Tomas Lenkimas, Head of Glassbel’s R&D department. Adding, “The biggest challenge with our solar façade was producing the glass-glass modules, which were very large and very heavy – the largest were 3.6 m long and 1.7 m wide.” He pointed out that, in comparison, “applying the photo print onto the module glass was relatively easy and that the installation of the façades, which was carried out by a specialist façade engineering company, also went very smoothly.”

Acquisition costs of a ‘second-skin’ solar facade are estimated to be around €550 ($610.91) per m2, at the same level as a stone or metal facade. These are quite low as compared to the cost for glass-window facade, which can cost up to €840 ($933.03) per m2.

This solar facade is said to keep the building cool, without disturbing the view outside.

SmartFlex is a project funded by the European Union (EU) that aims to show the versatility of solar PV as a technology. The EU is contributing €2.9 million ($3.22 million) to the project under its Seventh Framework Programme For Research and Innovation. The project demonstrates a multi-functional PV building element as a plug and play device that can easily and safely be installed onto any building.

Other project partners include Via Solis, ProTech, Glassbel, Photovoltaik-Institut Berlin, mechanical engineering company Mondragon Assembly, the Swiss BiPV Competence Centre (SUPSI), the planning software developer Creative Amadeo and specialist renewable energy agency Sunbeam Communications.

More about SmartFlex Solarfacades can be accessed on its website.